Illinois: Benjamin Black sentenced to 12 years in prison for DUI murder of child, severely injuring another

Benjamin James Black sentenced to 12 years
2014-04-10 — According to Kane County Illinois District Attorney Joseph H. McMahon, a Sycamore man has been sent to prison for driving with heroin and alprazolam in his body when his vehicle plowed into the rear of a second car, killing an 11-year-old boy, severely injuring a second person and causing a chain-reaction crash in west-central Kane County.

Benjamin J. Black, 29 (d.o.b. 8-9-1984), of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive, Sycamore, was sentenced on March 26, 2014 by Circuit Judge James C. Hallock to 12 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. In addition, Black was ordered to pay a fine of $4,500 along with other statutory fines and fees

Black pleaded guilty Nov. 14, 2013, to two counts of aggravated DUI, one a Class 2 felony and one a Class 4 felony.

Black had faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

At about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27, 2013, Black was driving a 1999 Ford Expedition SUV westbound on Illinois State Highway 64 in western Kane County. The Expedition crashed into the back of a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier in which 11-year-old Matthew Ranken of Sycamore was a backseat passenger. Matthew was killed, and a passenger in the front seat of the car, Teale Noble, was severely injured.

According to the Kane County Sheriff, the Cavalier was stopped, along with other vehicles, because of an earlier crash that had occurred farther west on Route 64.

An analysis of Black’s urine taken immediately after the crash revealed the presence of heroin and alprazolam metabolites. Alprazolam is a controlled substance sold by prescription under the brand name Xanax.

According to Illinois law, Black must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. Black receives credit for at least 324 days served in the Kane County jail, where he has been held since his arrest in lieu of $250,000 bail.

“This horrible and tragic case was absolutely preventable. Mr. Black’s selfish, criminal choices have been devastating to Matthew’s family. I hope the sentence

imposed by the court today helps Matthew’s family feel a sense of peace and justice as they move forward,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.

“This case should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about the inherent danger of heroin use. There is nothing glamorous about heroin. It is a dangerous and highly addictive narcotic that leads its users quickly and uncontrollably down the path of self-destruction. Although we are empathetic to issues of addiction, addiction does not excuse criminal behavior, particularly when it has devastating and lasting effects on others.

“Our thanks to Sgt. John Grimes, Sgt. Brian McCarty, Dep. Trevor Hoyt, Dep. Jason Friedrich, Det. Brandon McKiness, Det. Tom Flowers, Det. Steve Bruening and Lt. Pat Gengler of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office for their fine work on this difficult and emotional case. Thanks also to Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Cullen, who prosecuted the case.”